Health officials provide update on Nebraska's first coronavirus case

Posted at 11:21 AM, Mar 07, 2020

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Health officials held a press conference Saturday providing updates onNebraska's first case of coronavirus.

The patient is a 36-year-old Douglas County woman who was traveling through the United Kingdom.

She arrived at Methodist Women's Hospital emergency room with a respiratory infection that had been going on for 12 days.

She was admitted to Methodist Hospital then was transported to the Nebraska Biocontainment Unit for further care. According to Nebraska Medicine, she is in critical condition.

The woman has multiple underlying health conditions, according to Dr. Adi Pour, director of the Douglas County Health Department.

Gov. Pete Ricketts said the woman played in a Fremont YMCA basketball game and attended VFW dinner on Wednesday night prior to coming to the hospital. The Fremont YMCA is now closed and basketball tournaments in the coming days are canceled.

Officials are working to get more information on other places the patient went before being hospitalized and working to contact anyone who may have come in contact with the patient.

The woman lived by herself but had family in town and spent a lot of time with them, according to Dr. Pour.

The family is now under self-quarantine and the father is being monitored for symptoms.

So far, over 30 healthcare workers who were in contact with her have been asked to self-quarantine. The patient made five potential visits to three different healthcare sites, according to Dr. Pour.

The workers will only be tested if they come down with coronavirus symptoms.

One of the workers who lives with elders is instead being quarantined at the National Quarantine Unit.

Sarah Schram, director of the Sarpy/Cass Health Department, said there was a 65-year-old individual being assessed for risk of coronavirus in Sarpy County. Their results have came back negative, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

Less than ten individuals came in contact with this person at Marrs Magnet Middle School, according to Schram. No children came in contact, according to an OPS spokesperson.

Below is an e-mail sent out to staff and families about the situation:

We are writing to you because the health and safety of our staff, students and families is our priority. We value open communication with our community.

This evening, we received information that both the Douglas County and Sarpy/Cass Health Departments are monitoring a possible case of COVID-19 in the community. Health investigators say the test for that diagnosis is inconclusive at this time. This possible case is separate from the one identified in the community earlier Friday.

We are writing to you because this individual visited Marrs Magnet Center earlier in the week. Investigators believe the risk for exposure is low. Staff members who had the most direct contact with the visitor have heard directly from the health department. It is out of an abundance of caution that we share this information with you, so you may be aware.

The Douglas County Health Department hotline is available for any questions you may have. That number is 402-444-3400. With Spring Break underway, students and the vast majority of our staff are out of the building and we are beginning a deep clean of the school immediately.

Because health officials are continuing their investigation, we commit to keeping you informed as we receive updates.

Thank you for your partnership and support.

Dr. Pour said there are two goals: to contain the virus as long as possible to avoid community spread and to protect high-risk individuals.

High-risk individuals include the elderly, those with underlying health conditions, and immunocompromised people.

Dr. Pour added that it’s important to reinforce social distancing -- avoid shaking hands and hugging.

About 90% of individuals with coronavirus have a fever, according to a study read by Dr. Pour. She said to talk to your healthcare provider before going to an emergency room if you only have a cough or runny nose.

Gov. Ricketts is asking employers to be prepared as employees may not be able to come into work. He stresses to stay home if feeling sick.

He adds families should also be prepared and have a couple weeks of food at home.

Watch a Facebook live stream of the press conference below.

Coronavirus Resources and Information

Johns Hopkins global coronavirus tracker